Hurricane Agatha leaves 11 dead, 33 missing in southern Mexico

Mexico City, Jun 1 (EFE).- Mexican officials on Wednesday raised the official death toll from Hurricane Agatha to 11 in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, while the number of people missing was hiked to 33.

“Regrettably, today I report that Oaxaca is in mourning,” state Gov. Alejandro Murat said during a videoconference from the National Palace.

Authorities on Tuesday had said that 10 people were known to have died and 20 were missing in the turmoil brought by Agatha, the first hurricane of the 2022 Pacific storm season, which hit Oaxaca – one of the country’s poorest regions – as a Category 2 hurricane.

“Regrettably, there are dead and missing. Since Friday we’ve been dealing with this phenomenon,” Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Wednesday after the day before saying that there had been no reported victims and little material damage.

Agatha, which has now diminished in strength to a low pressure system, in particular affected the Oaxaca coastal area down to the Sierra Sur, Gov. Murat said.

Given the emergency, the governor announced the deployment of more than 1,900 soldiers, about 1,500 marines, about 500 police officers and more than 500 public officials.

He also called for the declaration of an emergency in 26 municipalities in the wake of the storm.

Murat said that there was damage to homes but that an assessment of the damage had barely begun in seven municipalities due to the difficulties in carrying out that task, with those communities being somewhat isolated from one another, located in the mountains and with a high proportion of indigenous people.

The National Civil Protection Coordination Agency (CNPC) said that roadways and bridges had been blocked and damaged by landslides, overflowing rivers and fallen trees.

“I embrace the relatives who have lost their loved ones, I hope that we’ll find all the missing people when we can get to all the communities. We’re going to be conducting that search and we’re waiting to do so. All our support to those with property damage,” Lopez Obrador said.

The arrival of Agatha marks the start of an “active” hurricane season, as forecast by the National Weather Service (SMN), which predicted up to 40 named tropical storms for 2022, of which at least five will hit Mexico on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.

In fact, the remnants of Agatha could be declared the first tropical storm of the year in the Atlantic region, the Miami-based US National Hurricane Center warned on Tuesday.

Thus, the Oaxaca governor warned local residents to remain alert.

“There are two more (weather systems) that are forming in different parts of the country, and so there’s about a 70 percent chance in the next five days that a storm could develop. We’re going to be on alert,” he said.

EFE ppc/laa/bp

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